Tag Archives: apprenticeships

Networking, Is It All It’s Cracked Up To Be? – Gus Parkhouse

In my first few days at IBM it seemed to be one in every five words was “Networking”, now that I’m a year in I can see why this was emphasised so much. I know working for a tech company you’re probably thinking why is computer networking so important to IBM and why does everyone keep talking about it? Although computer networking is important as connects components and nodes this blog is all about social and workplace networking. I’ve started to really see the benefits from good networking and constantly growing my network, these benefits are;

–     Opportunities

  • Connections, Knowing people in different places
  • Advice
  • Positive Influence
  • Confidence
  • Friendship
  • Add feedback

Through speaking to my line manager I have found many opportunities such as moving from an account in London to one closer to my home in Manchester, allowing me to spend more time with friends and also allowing me to be more sociable outside of work without having to stay in rented accommodation. Without knowing who to approach this would have been a lot more of a strenuous and time consuming task. It also helped me to know who to approach with certain aspects of work, for example Cognitive computing, as I found that just knowing one person in this area was positive  as it helped to open up doors to other members of that team and eventually help progress an extremely tricky task.

Since starting as an apprentice in IBM and building a great network of apprentice architects in one base location, I have now moved to the other side of the country and don’t have the pleasure of seeing apprenticeship colleagues on a daily basis anymore. But this hasn’t stopped me from networking with them, it just changed the ways in which I do it. Face to face turned into instant messaging, phone call, text messages and e-mails. I still ask this network the questions that I feel would defy the quote “There’s no such thing as a stupid question” and they’re happy to help. I went from working in an office with distinguished engineers to working from home for 3 weeks, during this time I had to call upon my network for the majority of information needed. I found working remotely from home a very big challenge as I was getting minimal human interaction which is the opposite of what I had the week before. I also created some new connections in this period with the Chief Architect of the new account I was heading on too. My new network connections into the architects team came in incredibly handy when joining IBM and learning what was vital to learn and what could wait.

When I had settled into my new account and had started to settle in, I was advised that a new Deputy Chief Architect was joining the account. When he arrived on the account I took the time to sit down and have a chat with him that eventually turned in to going to grab some lunch to get know more about what he had previously done and what he was expecting of me, but also a less work-related chat about what he was interested in that turned into him becoming a mentor for me and helping me with architecture and learning.

On the new account I have been able to expand my network further in a very short amount of time as I now work with such a vast team, this networking has helped me to expand my knowledge and get involved in a lot more tasks. This ever expanding networking has been great for helping my confidence in meetings with both the client and senior members of the team as they are there to reinforce the information I’m putting forward. Not forgetting to mention the social benefits of being involved in a mixed team, and all of the networking I have taken part in has helped me to develop my LinkedIn profile and help create a strong virtual network.

At the beginning, I won’t lie, I was very skeptical of what the hype around “Networking” was but now after just a year I can see that this is and will always be a massively important tool throughout my career. I would now say I agree with the old proverb “It’s not what you know but who you know” and can see where it possibly came from.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, feel free to message me on LinkedIn for any questions. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/gus-parkhouse-288855101)

Gus Parkhouse.

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Five-point plan to get the most out of your Apprenticeship – Oliver Pope

I recently celebrated my 4th ‘birthday’ at IBM.  Don’t ask me how four years have gone so quickly, because I don’t have an answer (and I’m trying to ignore the fact!).

With that in mind, I thought I’d share an updated 5-point plan that I use every day, that will help you get the most out of your apprenticeship and indeed, your career.

  1. Get a Mentor – I can absolutely assure you that there is no point in your career when having a mentor is a bad thing. And when I say ‘a mentor’ – I mean collect them like Pokémon.  Having a ‘council of advisors’ means that whenever you have a difficult decision about your career or how to handle a tricky work situation, the act of listening to people you trust will, I can guarantee, show you the right path
  2. Stay Excited … but not too excited – To this day, I still don’t understand people when talk about ‘that Monday morning feeling’. Talk to people (your manager, your colleagues in other parts of the business, your mentor), and find the role that suits you (you’ll know when you’ve found it, trust me).  But remember, you are starting off in your career (and building your understanding of technology, your role in the company and the machinations of office politics) so you are at a slight disadvantage to some of your colleagues who have done it before.  I have found that, in cases where I don’t know everything about a subject, I need to remain conscious of that fact and not allow myself to make assumptions or assertions that may end up coming back to haunt me or my client.  Which brings me on to my next point …
  3. Do the Reading – I cannot understate the importance and value or taking the time to do some education (formal or informal) in and around your area of expertise. Subscribe to development newsletters … most of the time you’ll just delete them, but even if you only read one white paper a month that teaches you one new thing, you’ll benefit. All of this provides you with the foundation to start implementing your own, new and innovative ideas that could change an industry –  and the next time the client asks a tricky question, you’ll be the one coming up with the answer
  4. Work Hard and Earn Your Place – Put in the hours. It’s that simple.  You won’t always be the most intelligent person in the room (I rarely am), but you honestly don’t need to be.  If you build a reputation for putting in the work, being personable, approachable and diligent, important people will soon start coming to you.  At first it will ‘only’ be to help do some research maybe, but then you’re helping them author a white paper, and then you’re implementing what you wrote about and changing the face of your business or industry (trust me, I know what I’m talking about on this one!)
  5. Chill Out! – Relax. ‘Wellness’ may be an annoying buzzword but really, the simple things still work best:
  • Avoid working from home (that’s where you go to in order to be with your family and turn your brain off!)
  • Work should start and end at specific times (obviously there are exceptional circumstances, but don’t get into the habit of answering emails whilst settling down to watch the next episode of The Walking Dead)
  • Have lunch away from your desk (sounds silly, but it dramatically increases your productivity over the whole day)
  • When it all gets a bit much and you’re juggling 15 tasks at once, step away from your desk, get some fresh air, write everything down and tackle the priorities one-by-one

I hope that helps – I can honestly say that I use most, if not all, of these points on a daily basis.  I really think it helps, and I really believe that you can start an amazing career as an Apprentice by implementing these in your day.

Thanks for reading, and let me know if you’ve got any other ideas that I can implement in my day!

Oliver Pope-Mostowicz, IBM Cloud Architect

@oliverjpope_

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/oliver-pope-mostowicz-90554358

Goals and Ambitions – Guest post from David Stokes, Chief Executive, IBM UK and Ireland

And so our first blog series comes to a close.  And what a great run it’s been.  We all hope you have reflected on your own successes in 2014 and have given yourself some ambitious goals for 2015 and the rest of your career.  Let us know if you chose anything to do with Apprenticeships – we’ll all help out in any way we can to make sure you reach your goals – and we’ll certainly let you know if we achieved ours by the end of the year!

Now, to close out this first series in style, have a read of the below – guest written for us by David Stokes, the Chief Executive, IBM UK and Ireland.  David has long been a supporter of the Apprenticeship scheme and has attended a number of events to inspire and congratulate the Apprentice community.  his words below give a good idea of his goals for IBM and the industry in 2015, and he also gives us some advice for making sure being an Apprentice is as fulfilling as it can be.  Check it out!

Our industry is changing at an unprecedented rate and scale, and our company is transforming to lead in this new era – the digital era. We have made significant progress to date and in 2015 our transformation continues.

Technology has been a source of great innovation for decades, playing a key role in improving the way we live, work and increase efficiency and productivity. Today we are witnessing the confluence of many global technology shifts – in areas such as big data, cloud, social, mobile and security. The convergence of all of these shifts is hugely disruptive to the way we do business across all industries and sectors.

IBM’s long standing history of innovation has meant that our clients have and will continue to look to us and demand the best of IBM; the technology and the expertise to help them operate efficiently and meet the demands of the new era. They will also continue to seek our help to build systems that engage with people in new and differentiating ways, whether they be external clients or their own employees.

To take our company forward and continue to support our clients we are focusing on three areas: firstly, continuing to accelerate our investments in the global technology shifts, secondly innovating within our core business and finally extending our partnerships to drive innovation, which has been the hallmark of our company for more than 100 years.

Our people are particularly crucial to this transformation, both to the business and to me personally. We must continue to invest in building the skills our client’s value most, as well as creating an environment in which innovation can thrive in this digital era.

Apprentices play an important role in ensuring we deliver the best of IBM. Not only do they bring new skills and new insights but a new approach to working. In a highly mobile and knowledge-based business, such as ours, they play an important role in ensuring the effectiveness of our company. I am a strong supporter of apprenticeships and believe giving young people the opportunity to work hard, learn fast and put their skills into practice, on “real-world” projects, will enable them and IBM to succeed.

In reflecting on my own career, and my some 25 years in IBM, I can say with confidence that IBM offers an immense range of opportunities to learn; not just about technology but about many different aspects of the commercial world. Each of these opportunities are a chance to grow and learn.

As you look to build your own careers, my advice to you all would be to: always give your best and act with professionalism in everything you do, never stop learning – from your successes and your mistakes, and finally do something you enjoy. I believe IBM offers the opportunity to do all of these, and it is down to you to embrace the challenge.